ARTIST: Sonic Jesus
RELEASE DATE: 10th March 2017
RECORD COMPANY: Fuzz Club Records
From the critically acclaimed underground label Fuzz Club Records comes a slab of truly atmospheric, beautiful and moving music; Grace by Sonic Jesus. Deep and gravel-filled baritone vocals sing over the top of layers of soundscaped synth and unique, refreshing kinds of revivalist post-punk. At its core, holding everything together, is the careful and strategic structural elements of well written and performed alternative rock that balances itself with what seems to be the central theme of Grace; the essence and presentation of mood. From the dark corners of contemplation all the way up through to what sounds like narrative storytelling, Sonic Jesus’s use of mood, both musically and lyrically, is what makes Grace a wholly more interesting listen than any other sort of post-punk, synth laden music that seems to pour out easily for many worldwide bands and artists. ‘Grace’ is out right now with various formats available to buy via the ever brilliant fuzzclub.com
‘I’m in Grace’ opens the album with layers upon layers of atmospheric synth soundscapes which are punctured by the deep but inventive baritone of the vocals. Eventually, the drums and guitars enter, playing a recognisable brand of post-punk; made special by the fantastic musical texturing and layering by the band. The song turns from sounding somewhat downtrodden to epic and larger within a few quiet moments; an album highlight. ‘I Hope’ utilizes the previous songs formalities but turns it into a more dream pop/indie tune, where the guitar tone sounds much lighter and colourful than on ‘I’m in Grace’. Again, the small tweaks and touches of a snare rattle here, a clap or other percussive sound make the song all the more enjoyable in a greater and more ‘fuller’ context. Perhaps the greatest element of the song is the chord progression within the chorus; where the vocals slide back down at the same time as the guitar; mixing emotions to create a kind of contrast that highlights all things good about the music. ‘Modern Model’ takes the synth elements explored on other songs to the foreground, creating a pysch-rock like feel. And while its an interesting track, it does not admit the same kind of radiance as either ‘I’m in Grace’ or ‘I Hope’, although the use of keyboards should be strongly highlighted and praised. ‘September Ninth’ turns things around again, sounding quite akin to a formal stylistic sound reminiscent of art rock or punk but still shows significant influence from post-punk and even subtle flashes of cold-wave . The brilliantly darker songwriting skills of the band make the song one of Grace’s best tracks, especially in the section just past the two minute point, where the lyrics and music bounce off each other and feed into a synthetic sounding chorus of epic proportions.
‘No Way’ is by far the most omniscient sounding song on the entire release; the thick disco like bass strums over a dance inspired drum track and scratchy, wild sounding guitar riff. The chorus seeps into itself similar to the previous track, sounding large and more wild than the verse that preceded it. Altogether, the track sounds quite New Wave; synthetic in an appealing sense, and layered and deep enough to appear beautifully fulfilling in its full pictorial qualities. One of Grace’s other highlights is the swaying reverie of ‘Space Heels’ which is perhaps the most melodically beautiful track on the entire release. The song embodies a slower tempo and more ‘gentle’ use of the synthesiser, tied together by a majestic and engaging vocal performance, sprouting and crooning majestic and engaging lyrics in the same. ‘Outdoor Party’ is another brilliantly new wave laced track; equipped with a more dream pop sounding guitar line and a melody that sounds somewhat more upbeat than on previous tracks. ‘Stars’ maintains this quality, heavy and pounding in its percussive elements; it utilizes the airy and hollow ambiance of previous tracks as a background for more alternative soundscaping. The second section of this song, what you could call the outro, plays out texturally rich, with a sequenced sound bouncing around in the background of the alt-rock inspired tune. ‘Fading Lights’ seems to act more like an un-intentional retrospective of the album; collecting up all the elements that the band has explored across Grace.
To keep an album with ten songs on it interesting enough to listen to from cover to cover, a band has to keep one unifying thematic quality to each song and to each transition from one song to another. For Sonic Jesus, that quality is the nifty tonal quality of mood. On Grace, every song either establishes or contorts mood to place emphasis on the atmospheric quality of the songs spread out within. Whether it be large scale, synth laden new wave sounding passages, or the sharp and linear qualities of post-punk revival music, Sonic Jesus manage to keep mood at the centrepiece of this album, to keep it interesting and thought provoking the whole way through. Its easy to see where many other bands stumble with this kind of music in an album context, but to be completely honest, Grace stands out so strongly from the crowd in a fashion that highlights their originality that you don’t even think about how the record could have ended up down the toilet. The performances are tight, showcasing well written songs and music, but it is the production and mixing that pushes the album further in its creativity, appeal and interest. Sonic Jesus have thus created an album that avoids all the clichés, emphasising talent, performance and sound.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Cam Phillips is a writer and above all, a music lover, who seeks to gain experience through writing and listening. He is also an avid film viewer and art and literature junkie who enjoys creative writing. His most recent published work was featured on Baeble Music and Culture (USA), Sounds and Colours Magazine (Latin America, London), Easterndaze (Latvia) and the Australian based heavy music blog, I Probably Hate Your Band.